GOOD MORNING! Where do I go to sign up for some diving No, not training, I did all that years ago, I just want to go diving.
Yes, that does indeed mean Im a fully qualified diver, how very clever of you to work that out.
How long have I been qualified Not really sure, but quite a long time.
hspace=5 How long exactly Let me put it this way, how old are you Really It must be the sun, very ageing, sunshine. Ive been qualified longer than youve been going to the toilet without help.
Now youre going to ask me how many dives Ive done, arent you There, I knew you were. Not really sure about that either. Oh, yes, I still log the dives, but I lost track of how many after a couple of thousand.
And when was the last time I dived A week ago. Nice little hardboat day off the north-east coast of England, wreck of a U-boat in 44m of water. Lovely. Though with hindsight, I didnt actually need more than a single 12.
Four of us on the boat, there were, not including the skipper of course, and we had the calmest seas you can imagine, and almost 10m viz. Not like a British diving day at all.
What are you charging for diving out here these days, then You say best value is the five-day, ten-dive package It usually is. Ive always wondered about these five-day dive packages.
I mean, nobody in their right mind comes here for anything but diving, and most folk fly out for a week, yes
Cant dive on the last day, so that leaves six days. Yet you people insist on this five-day diving package malarkey, and just how much will an extraday cost me on top of that, if I may be so bold
As I thought, half as much as the full package. I tell you what, rather than take my business to the operator next door, Ill take the five-day package and do an extra day at the end at the same cost as one of the days of my five-day pack, OK
Youll need to ask your manager to authorise it Well dont just stand there, go ask her.
She says thatll be fine Yes, I thought she might.
Did you just ask me if I need to hire equipment You see this great big bright yellow bag with the diving equipment company logo on it Good. Well, guess whats inside Thats right, diving equipment! Spot on! So all I need is a weight-belt, a spot of lead and a cylinder, thank you so very much.
Now, where are we diving this morning
Oh, I really dont think so. Ive been there before and its a flat sandy bottom with the thick end of bugger-all to look at. I tell you what, that board behind you says youve got a boat going out
to the offshore reefs, why dont I just go on that
Because I have to do a check-dive with an instructor on a local site first. Look, how can I explain this to you
The local sites are where everyone does their check dives and their basic diving courses and the in-water skill development bits of their next level diving courses and so on, and they
are, without wishing to be offensive, buggered, trashed and fin-bashed until the coral is extinct and the fish either traumatised or scared away.
Are you starting to understand that I do not want to dive the local sites Good. Now, I realise that you want me to dive with an instructor so that my diving skills, in particular my buoyancy control, can be assessed to avoid damage to the reefs. I dont mind that at all. What I do mind is wasting a dive to prove it.
Again, I have a proposal. Why dont I go on that boat, the one going to the site with the nice deep vertical wall at the beginning
That way I can demonstrate that my buoyancy control is pretty darned impressive, and if it isnt, Ill be sinking so fast I wont be any sort of problem on the afternoon dive. Ill either have drowned or come up so fast Ill be more bent than an EU banana.
You cant allow it unless the manager OKs it Weve been here before. See what she says, and ask her to bear in mind that there are 26 other diving operations within a 10-minute walk of here.
Thank you, I was sure shed see reason. And when Ive finished diving today, Ill come back and tell you which boat I want to go on tomorrow.
Yes, I know the usual thing is to stay with a boat for the week, but I know the sites I want to do, so Ill have to swap from boat to boat. Are we going to do the manager thing again Lovely.
Are the boats at the usual jetty around the bay Super. I can walk along the beaches and enjoy the volleyball and beach aerobics and aqua-gym classes and all those deafening sound systems.
Here we are. Good grief, Id forgotten just how busy this place is. Now, wheres the boat Over there.
Hi there, youll be the dive guide.
How did I know Well, it wasnt the healthy outdoor tan or the comfortable manner in which youre leaning against the railing, it was the combination of the clipboard, the half-smoked cigarette dangling from your lips, the nervous twitch of your left shoulder and the narrowed, weary eyes of a man hang-gliding over the deepest pits of Hell.
Ill just assemble my gear and find sit down till you start the briefing.
That was a very thorough briefing, old son. Most impressive. Apart from the bit about bobbing around on the surface until weve tightened our straps and all got comfy and exchanged signals. I hate doing that, but if thats what you want, thats what Ill do. Unless I see something interesting under water, obviously.
hspace=5 Oh, and I wasnt too enamoured with the schoolkids crocodile bit, either, or the bit where we have to follow behind you at all times, or the bit where you want to know how much air we have every 10 minutes of the dive, or the bit about not going too deep or not straying too far from the reef wall.
The bit where you described the reef and the currents and the route was honestly very good, though.
Here we go. Look at that school of fish! Those lean shapes carving through the water are fantastic. I love this dive.
Wassat tugging my fin The guide. Yes You want me to follow you back to the reef and the group I can understand that, but just look at those magnificent barracuda and the way the light dapples their bodies. When theyre out of sight Ill head back to the reef, and not before, and tugging on my fins wont alter my decision. Neither will waving your arms and pointing.
Especially pointing in that direction - the reef is the other way. You arent pointing at the reef, are you Youre pointing into the blue at that great, grey shape. If your jaw drops any further youll lose that regulator, sunshine.
That was good. Lets go back to the group. No, its this way, really it is.
I love finishing a dive in the shallows. The rest of the group have run out of air and gone, and I can just bob around watching the smaller stuff without a care in the world.
Ah well, back to the boat. Here comes the guide. Time for the argument about diving practices. Best to pre-empt it.
Come over here, old son. Now, either you and I can get along, or we can fall out and you can get yourself all worked up. The suns shining, the seas warm and deep blue, the visibility is endless and the reef is healthy. Do you really want to spoil all that, arguing with an old guy who really doesnt care about your opinion, especially when you have baby divers who need looking after
Why dont we just lean on this rail together and watch the bikini-fish for a while instead
Have you ever noticed the way that lady snorkellers seem to swim entirely submerged except for their bottoms and the tips of their snorkels Or that male snorkellers stop a lot and clear their snorkels far more violently than necessary Or that very few people can actually do a proper duck-dive
Just you concentrate for a moment on that very shapely backside and then tell me if you really want to argue about diving practices.
Now, where are we diving this afternoon Yes, I know it, a lovely little afternoon site, endless coral and fish. And every dayboat within a two-day steam already here.
Oh well, it had to happen. In we go again, and more divers than fish. Ive seen less frothy cappuccino. Never mind, better here than at work.
Right, back to the jetty to unload for the day.
The jettys frantic now. Boats jostling back and forth, skippers yelling, horns blaring, and Im sure the practice alluded to in that gesture is illegal in 43 states of the USA.
Finally in. This is organised chaos, without the organisation.
Now back to sort out the boat for tomorrow and then just 16 hours to kill and I can do it all again.